Unforgettable Jazz: Blanchard, Ball and Hathaway Light Up LA Phil with Movie Magic

Terence Blanchard. Photo courtesy of artist.

Jazz aficionados were in for a real treat last Saturday at the luxurious Disney Concert Hall as they were serenaded by the magnificent sounds of Terence Blanchard, the six-time Grammy award-winning trumpeter and Oscar-nominated film composer. Blanchard, known for his evocative scores in Spike Lee’s films like Malcolm X, BlacKkKlansman, and When the Levees Broke, brought his A-game to the stage and wowed the crowd with his melodious and sweeping jazz. But Blanchard’s talents don’t just stop there. He has also composed operas, such as Fire Shut Up in My Bones, based on The New York Times columnist Charles Blow’s memoir. And let’s not forget his inspired jazz albums that draw from bossa nova, like The Heart Speaks, and even sultry noir scores for TV series like HBO’s Perry Mason.

As the lights dimmed and the stage came alive, anticipation was palpable. The crowd had waited patiently for years for this moment, as the show had been originally planned a few years ago but was waylaid due to the pandemic. And it almost didn’t happen again! Blanchard began with the familiar notes of “Mo Better Blues,” but soon after, a false alarm brought the performance to a halt. But the maestro wasn’t deterred. He kept the audience engaged with his quick wit and charm until clearance was granted, and then he launched into the epic score of “Malcolm X.” Featured in the show was also the music of “Clockers,” “The 25th Hour,” “Miracle at St. Anna’s Suite,” and “Blackkklansman,” for which earned an Oscar nomination.

Joining Blanchard on stage was the soulful singer, Tarriona “Tank” Ball. Her powerful voice added a new dimension to Blanchard’s already impressive performance. Together, they created a symbiotic relationship that was nothing short of magical. Ball’s rendition of Stevie Wonder’s hits, “These Three Words” and “Make Sure You’re Sure,” was simply breathtaking. Gracing the stage was also Lalah Hathaway, daughter of the legendary Donny Hathaway, who took the audience on a journey through a couple of classics. Her sultry voice, reminiscent of honeyed whisky, had the crowd enthralled. It was clear that music ran deep in her veins as she navigated through the complexities of the standards with ease, infusing them with her own unique flavor and style.

The LA Phil, under the baton of Thomas Wilkins, was in top form. And the E-Collective was nothing short of phenomenal. Saxophonist, Ben Wendell’s duet with Hathaway on “What’s Going On” was a standout moment, leaving the audience up in applause. In the end, it was a night to remember. The music, the musicians, the guests, and the audience all came together in a beautiful harmony. It was a true testament to the power of jazz and movies to transcend boundaries and bring people together.

— G. Dhalla

More details on the Walt Disney Concert Halls HERE